Retention Guarantees


Everybody’s got a co-worker, right, who does this?Marches in every couple months and demands more money or else he or she will leave? And the question isn’t whether he or she deserves more money, it’s whether blackmail is a long-term negotiating tactic. You can only pull that card so many times.

Because honestly, there’s a part of me that gets the bonus argument; Mr. A used to work at a place that gave out bonuses. Nothing close to what’s being talked about with AIG (dude, can you imagine the blog we’d have if it had been? Hot and cold running interns, crack vans every day, a compound in the French Quarter where you’d all be welcome to shack up …) but a bonus, still. And there were people who banked on those bonuses, counted on them to pay off debt each year or make a major purchase, so I can see the argument that jerking those bonuses away is devastating to them.

The problem, though, is that this shit happens all the time. People count on their jobs, right, and those jobs get yanked away when the world economy goes kablooie and there’s no arguing that you were budgeting for that salary so give it to me anyway. People count on all kinds of stuff, and there are times when your bosses are bullshitting you about how much they want to pay you and you deserve to squeeze them a little, and times when genuinely, there is no money for you, so threatening to leave is kind of pointless.

Such as when you’ve been bailed out by the taxpayers after you kind of wrecked the whole world. So maybe on balance it would be better not to threaten to leave lest your employers, at this time you and me in the case of AIG, look at you across the desk and say, “Well, go on then, split already.”


7 thoughts on “Retention Guarantees

  1. Imagine the CatVan Crackbus!!! 🙂 Harnesses for evrybod’! And we could afford a cleaning crew to detail it after every event!

  2. Yes, A, exactly. Leave already. I’m having a hard time believing “Douchbag at AIG” is going to be a plus on the CV when looking for that next position.
    Can’t TELL you the number of times I’ve told people that if they are to the point where they are laying that ultimatum out there, they better damned well be prepared to walk out the door and never come back after saying it, cuz most places will respond with “ok, well, bye then.”
    Cuz this particular partial owner by virtue of handing them sackfuls of taxpayer dollars thinks they should be working FOR FREE to try to unfuck the clusterfuck they created, and maybe we won’t try to find a way to expose the fraud and jail them for it. So a bonus on top of that? Too much to ask.

  3. True story: After my first year at a job which will shall go unnamed, I got a bonus, equivalent to about 8%-10% of my salary. It was kind of performance-based, but it was more along the lines of “you did a nice job, and probably aren’t really compensated enough, so here’s a bonus.” That is, it wasn’t based on any metric or anything.
    It’s not a job I took for the money, which with a 10% raise every year would take years to get to the level of other options, so I wasn’t miffed, obviously. But I did think: I wish this was a raise, because if shit hits the fan this isn’t coming back. Lo and behold, my company went bankrupt, and it didn’t.
    Having trouble processing the AIG exec’s GBCW editorial in the NYT today. On one hand, I get that it sucks to work with/for people who destroyed your company, and I’m willing to accept his stipulation that it isn’t his fault. I’m also willing to accept the stipulation that he expects to make $740k after taxes, though perhaps not the idea that he’s quite worth all that.
    On the other, the idea that a financial industry brainiac would be shocked! that 1) a CEO would talk out of both sides of his mouth to get through a committee meeting 2) the American people would be full of not-entirely-laser-focused rage 3) the House would pass a hamhanded piece of legislation (which hasn’t, y’know, passed the Senate)… well, it sets of my BS meter.
    I think what it kind of comes down to is this: some people think these guys are worth the money and believe them when they say that it’s cheaper to hire them for a lot instead of hiring someone for less in order tomake more lose less money.
    Other people, alternately, would like them to be grateful that they still have their f***ing jobs given that Uncle Sam doesn’t go bailing out every company that gets taken down by a screwup…
    ..and furthermore would appreciate it if companies like AIG (which continued to pay Cassano $1 mil/mo after he destroyed it) had the long-term financial sense and general concept of employee value possessed by, at the very least, an organized crime family.
    I have to admit that I’m instinctually drawn towards the latter group.

  4. (with the caveat that I’m not *certain* that this is what the AIG retention bonuses were for…)
    About fifteen years ago, I was working for a division of a bigger company, and our division wasn’t doing well. We could all tell that sooner or later they were going to shut us down. Sure enough, one day they told us that (I think it was about) in six months, they would be shutting down the division, and tranfering responsibility for our products to another facility in another state. Some people were laid off pretty much right away, but some were asked to stick around for the six months to help make the transition smooth, not “spook” the customers, etc.
    Now, why, if you knew you were going to be out of a job in six months, would you agree to stay and help out the people that were eliminating your job? The paycheck? Assuming you could find another job, you’d just take the new job, and the hell with the old company, wouldn’t you?
    Unless they offered you a “bonus” to stick around and help the with transition. They offered us (if I remember) an additional 50% above normal salary, on the condition that we stay the entire six months; leave early and you get no bonus.
    Some people left, some stayed; some intended to stay, but left after finding a new job that they just couldn’t turn down. I stayed.
    Now, we can debate whether the AIG-Financial Products people were “the only ones” who could unwind the contacts they had – and have – with all the banks. We can debate whether the amounts of the “bonuses” in question were excessive.
    But if you think about unwinding the contracts, that doing it *right* might save everyone some money; about the fact (?) that someday soon the Financial Products group will be closed down, and those people will be out of their jobs, then the idea of “retention bonuses” aren’t all that crazy.
    Maybe “bonus” is the wrong word. Maybe something like “prospective severence” would be better.

  5. Unless I am mistaken, not that that ever happens, the Financial Sector companies call most of the salaries they pay “bonuses”, largely to cheat the IRS out of their usual share. That I object to.
    As an employee I had a couple of years where I got an annual bonus, but no pay raise. That meant one nice check, but nothing to help with the rising cost of living back then. That I object to.
    I’m trying to remember the time I was paid more than $100,000 in one year, bonus or salary. My memory is having difficulties…that I object to.

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